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The Soviet Influence: From Turksib to Night Mail (Blu-ray+DVD) BFI


In the early 1930s, under the nervous eye of the censor, Soviet propaganda films were shown in Britain. They played a central role in developing ideas about film as an art form. This fascinating package explores the influence of classic, yet little-seen, Soviet documentary Turksib on British documentary films, including the celebrated Night Mail.

Turksib (Victor Turin, 1929): bold and exhilarating, Turksib charts the building of the Turkestan-Siberian railway. Presented in the English version prepared in 1930 by John Grierson, with an evocative new score by Guy Bartell (Bronnt Industries Kapital).
The Workers’ Topical News No 1 (1930): the newsreel shown at Turksib British premiere.
Australian Wine (Paul Rotha, 1931): charming and lively promotional film employing Soviet-style montage.
The Country Comes to Town (Basil Wright, 1931): a celebration of the importance of the British countryside.
Shadows on the Mountains (Arthur Elton, 1932): expressive titles and cinematography are deployed in this lyrical film about farming.
The Face of Britain (Paul Rotha, 1935): a passionate and ambitious appeal for socialist planning.
Night Mail (Harry Watt, Basil Wright, 1936): justly celebrated, this seminal film applies the aesthetic lessons of Soviet cinema to a very British tale.

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Special Features

New musical scores for the silent films on the programme.
40-page illustrated booklet, drawing on writings of John Grierson, Basil Wright, Paul Rotha and others to chart the Soviet influence in the development of British documentary film.


Bluray, DVD